Experts on the Ravens 2015 draft class, and our expectations
We have had a few days to digest, and analyze the NFL draft. The Ravens made nine selections this past weekend. Here is what the industry leaders had to say about the Ravens efforts, and what I think the expectations are for these new additions to the home team.
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Mel Kiper Jr., ESPN. Grade: A-
Mel Kiper Jr., the gold standard in draft analysis, whose encyclopedia of scouting is used by many NFL teams when it comes to draft preparation, gave the Ravens his highest grade of the draft. The Seahawks, Jets, Redskins, and division rival Steelers also earned an A- from Mel. According to his big board, the Ravens snagged three of his top 50 players in the first three rounds, or 90 picks, when they selected Breshad Perriman (26), Maxx Williams (55) and Carl Davis (90). He also notes that the Ravens got great value with fourth round pick Za’Darius Smith, and sixth round pick Darren Waller.
Bucky Brooks, NFL.com. Grade: B
According to Brooks, the Ravens had the third best draft…in the division? He gives both the Browns and Bengals a B+ grade, and the Steelers a C+. Brooks noted that the best pick within the division was the Ravens moving up to grab TE Maxx Williams, calling him the most complete tight end in the draft, possessing the hands, ball skills, and sneaky athleticism to be a red zone monster. He also expects Perriman, Williams, Davis, and Javorius Allen to step on the field and contribute as first year pros. Similar to Kiper, Brooks also feels that Za’Darius Smith is a great sleeper pick that could emerge down the road.
Rob Rang, CBS Sports. Grade: A
Rang said that not only the Ravens, but the entire AFC North had a solid draft. The Ravens plugged holes better than anyone, citing Breshad Perriman as a Torrey Smith replacement. He also calls Maxx Williams the best tight end in the draft, and felt it was wise to double down, adding Nick Boyle in the fifth round.Rang like the picks of stout defenders Carl Davis and Za’Darius Smith. His real sleeper pick could be Allen, who Rang expects to take snaps from Justin Forsett as a rookie. Rang looks at CB, Tray Walker as a developmental pick who excels in press coverage.
Chris Burke, Sports Illustrated, Grade: B+
Burke is most impressed with the meat of the Ravens draft, in the middle rounds. He projects Carl Davis to be a force up front for years to come, Za’Darius Smith to be powerful edge rusher, and Javorius Allen to be a perfect fit in Marc Trestman’s system. He describes the top picks in Perriman and Williams as “high upside”, both projected to be picked before the Ravens picked at #26. They add a downfield element to the Ravens game plan, but success will rely on how the Ravens develop the talented, but unpolished receivers. Burke also believes Williams was a day 2 steal.
James Brady: SB Nation, Grade: B+
Brady gave all the AFC North teams grades in the B range. The Ravens and Steelers earn B+ grades, a B for the Browns, and a B- for the Bengals. He sees Perriman as an adequate replacement for Torrey Smith. Just like the previous experts, Brady likes the Williams, Davis, and Smith picks, and says that they “killed it” in the later rounds of the draft as well. Sounds like the only thing keeping this from being a grade A draft was calling Perriman “adequate”.
Overall, it doesn’t appear the experts are sold on the Breshad Perriman pick. He is viewed as high risk, high reward. An adequate replacement of Torrey Smith. No one calls it an upgrade at the WR position, no one says he’s number one on the depth chart talent wise over aging Steve Smith. This is example number one of why I don’t chose to grade drafts. Who knows what kind of player Perriman will be? As a first round pick, I expect him to start, and rack up at least 70 catches, and 1,000 yards, finding the endzone more than a few times.
It’s unanimous that Maxx Williams and Carl Davis are favorite picks, and should contribute immediately. Seem to be slam dunk picks. Not only was Williams the best TE in the draft, moving up to get him kept the rival Steelers from drafting him as the heir apparent to Heath Miller (They drafted Jesse James out of Penn State in the later rounds). Carl Davis was the best player available on a lot of boards when the Ravens picked him. I expect Williams to be atop the depth chart once camp breaks, with Crockett Gillmore being a solid complement at TE. Davis could rotate in in sub packages as a rookie, or play up to his potential and be a bookend on the 3-4 front with Timmy Jernigan opposite him, and Brandon Williams in the middle.
Za’Darius Smith appears to be a sleeper pick, and another mid round steal. With Suggs and Dumervil still anchoring one of the better pass rushing groups in the league, Smith might not make a huge impact in his rookie year, and that’s ok. Paul Kruger and Pernell McPhee are a couple of guys who took some developing and turned into stars.
Javorius “Buck” Allen looks to be a fit in Marc Trestman’s offense as a one cut style back, and a receiver out of the backfield. I personally, was not a fan some things I saw on tape. I felt like he lacked vision at times, juking one way into a defender, when there was open hole the other way. I hope I’m wrong of course, as the experts feel he can take some snaps away from Justin Forsett. But I think a lot of people like what they have in Lorenzo Taliaferro behind Forsett. Allen will certainly have to show well on special teams to earn his stripes, and earn any playing time he will receive, unless the injury bug strikes.
CB, Tray Walker, and TE, Nick Boyle, appear to be role players in the future. Walker has great size for a press corner at 6’2”. I don’t expect him to be a nickel back playing too much off man. He’ll have to get batter in run stopping in order to be considered an every down corner down the road. I expect him to be a special teamer, with a shot to earn playing time in dime packages. Nick Boyle was selected, likely as an insurance policy for Dennis Pitta. Right now the Ravens have Pitta, Gillmore, Phillip Supernaw, Williams and Boyle on board. Ozzie said you need four or five TEs and that it’s a TE friendly system here. But it just is not feasible to have five TEs on a 53-man roster. Unfortunately, the Ravens have to proceed as if Pitta is not an option, and if he is, it’s a nice bonus. I expect Boyle to compete with Supernaw for the final TE spot on the depth chart, as his skill set is far inferior to Maxx Williams, and Gillmore could be the most experienced of the group, with just one year under him.
Robert Myers was a guard taken in the end of the fifth round out of Tennessee State. No one is talking much about him, probably because O-lineman are un-sexy, though necessary picks, and he’s a small school guy who earned a Senior Bowl invite. He matched up well there with big school competition. I don’t expect much in 2015, but with Kelechi Osemele, and Marshal Yanda in contract years, Myers could be groomed for a larger role in 2016.
Wide out, Darren Waller, was the final Ravens pick in the draft. He stands 6’6”, run a 4.46 40-yard dash, and is from the same school that developed and produced Calvin Johnson and Demaryius Thomas. Why was Waller passed over by so many teams? Could be the triple option attack they run down there at GA Tech, or his previous suspension for violating team rules. I really hope this is the diamond in the rough of the Ravens 2015 draft. They are out there when you look around the league. Steelers WR Antonio Brown has been statistically one of the best receivers in the NFL for a couple of years now, and was drafted in round six. The Ravens typically carry six WRs, and Waller would be the seventh on the depth chart. He’ll have to compete with Jeremy Butler, and show some talent in the late going of some preseason games to climb the chart.
Mike was born on the Eastern Shore, raised in Finksburg, and currently resides in Parkville. In 2009, Mike graduated from the Broadcasting Institute of Maryland. Mike became a Baltimore City Fire Fighter in late 2010. Mike has appeared as a guest on Q1370, and FOX45. Now a Sr. Ravens Analyst for BSL, he can be reached at [email protected]